The UFC is in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates this weekend and the lightweight title will be unified in the main event.
Although Dustin Poirier is still considered the underdog, many people are rooting for the American challenger to remove the zero from Russian favourite Khabib Nurmagomedov. All but one fighter made weight for the event, so Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the card.
UFC 242 FIGHT PASS PRELIMS (10:15AM ET/7:15AM PT)
FARES ZIAM (10-2-0) VS. DON MADGE (8-3-1)
Andrews: A lot of local talent at this show. Both guys have a total of one fight of octagon experience. So Madge has a bit of experience, but both guys like to finish fights. Bit of a tossup, but I will go with the South African.
Andrews Prediction: Don Madge via TKO
ZAK CUMMINGS (23-6-1) VS. OMARI AKHMEDOV (18-4-1)
Andrews: Cummings has been plodding along but Omari is a good challenge, possibly a younger version of himself. Another tossup, but at 35, can Cummings fend off Omari? I think Omari overcomes the experience disadvantage to get it done.
Andrews Prediction: Omari Akhmedov via UD
NORDINE TALEB (15-6-0) VS. MUSLIM SALIKHOV (14-2-0)
Andrews: Salikhov is still finding his way in the UFC, so Taleb has the experience advantage but has only been average in his last fights. I think the Canadian grinds out a narrow decision.
Andrews Prediction: Nordine Taleb via UD
BELAL MUHAMMAD (15-3-0) VS. TAKASHI SATO (15-2-0)
Andrews: Sato impressively finished an old Ben Saunders but can he do that to Muhammad? I have to go with Muhammad, who bounced back with a win in his last fight.
Andrews Prediction: Belal Muhammad via UD
TEEMU PACKALEN (8-2-0) VS. OTTMAN AZAITAR (11-0-0)
Andrews: Packalen has lost two of his last three fights, but gets to welcome Azaitar to the octagon. I wold normally lean toward the experienced Packalen, but Azaitar like to finish fights and I think he overcomes the jitters to do it.
Andrews Prediction: Ottman Azaitar via TKO
SARAH MORAS (5-5-0) VS. LIANA JOJUA (7-2-0)
Andrews: The Canadian has lost three fights in a row (and four of her last five), missed weight but gets to welcome Jojua to the octagon. Moras has the advantages and if she can keep the fight standing, should win.
Andrews Prediction: Sarah Moras via UD
ZUBAIARA TUKHUGOV (18-4-0) VS. LERONE MURPHY (8-0-0)
Andrews: Tukhugov should have a big advantage over Murphy, who is competing for the first time in the UFC.
Andrews Prediction: Zubaira Tukhugov via TKO
#5 JOANNE CALDERWOOD (13-2-0) VS. #6 ANDREA LEE (11-2-0)
Andrews: Should be a good fight, as both like to strike. But Lee is younger and should have the legs to outwork JoJo.
Andrews Prediction: Andrea Lee via UD
MAIN CARD (2PM ET/11AM PT)
MAIRBEK TAISMUOV (27-5-0) VS. DIEGO FERREIRA (15-2-0)
Andrews: Ferreira is durable and should make it interesting, but Taisumov likes to get people out of there and after some initial trouble will do the same to Diego.
Andrews Prediction: Mairbek Taisumov via TKO
#4 CURTIS BLAYES (11-2-0, 1NC) VS. #9 SHAMIL ABDURAKHIMOV (20-4-0)
Andrews: A tough one for Blaydes, who will have to work to grind out the win. Shamil can land the big one too. But somehow, Blaydes survives and gets the narrow win.
Andrews Prediction: Curtis Blaydes via UD
ISLAM MAKHACHEV (17-1-0) VS. DAVI RAMOS (10-2-0)
Andrews: Ramos is good on the ground, but Makhachev is good everywhere and should get the comfortable decision win.
Andrews Prediction: Islam Makhachev via UD
EDSON BARBOZA (20-7-0) VS. PAUL FELDER (16-4-0)
Andrews: Has Barboza recovered from his last fight? He says he has, so I am going with the Switch Kick master. Felder is durable and will have opportunities to counter, but Barboza will dictate the fight unless Felder can take the starch out with effective counterstrikes.
Andrews Prediction: Edson Barboza via UD
KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV (27-0-0) VS. DUSTIN POIRIER (25-5-0)
Andrews: Poirier is tough and will give some early striking trouble, but Khabib will outlast him and wear him down to the ground.
Andrews Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov via submission